Russo Ukrainian War. Day 289: Russians continue offensive operations on Bakhmut

 

Daily review

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

Russian forces continue offensive operations on Bakhmut, described as “hell on Earth.” Russia deploys multiple-launch rocket systems to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. Iranian Shahed-136s reappear in Ukraine after almost a month of absence.

Daily overview — Summary report, December 9

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, December 9, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below:

Show the Content

The two-hundred-eighty-ninths (289) day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military large-scale invasion continues.
Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces have repelled attacks by russian occupiers in the areas of Bilohorivka in the Luhansk oblast and Klishchiivka and Maryinka in the Donetsk oblast.
Over the past day, the enemy launched 5 missile and 3 air strikes, as well as carried out 54 attacks from rocket salvo systems.
The threat of missile strikes on energy system and critical infrastructure facilities throughout Ukraine continues.
In the Siversky direction, the enemy shelled the settlements of Khodyne, Sosnivka, Kindrativka, and Zapsillia of the Sumy oblast with mortars.
Kharkiv Battle Map. December 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. December 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

In the Slobozhansk direction, the areas of the settlements of Strilecha, Ternov, Starytsa, Ohirtseve and Kupyansk of the Kharkiv region were hit by fire from mortars and barrel artillery.
The enemy is defending in the Kupyansk direction. Shelling from tanks and various types of artillery was recorded in the areas of Sinkivka, Pishchane and Pershotravneve settlements in the Kharkiv region and Novoselivske and Stelmakhivka in the Luhansk region.
In the Lyman direction, the enemy carried out artillery shelling in the areas of Hrekivka, Makiivka, Ploshchanka, Nevske and Chervonopopivka in the Luhansk oblast, and Torske and Hryhorivka in the Donetsk oblast.
Donetsk Battle Map. December 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. December 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

In the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions, the enemy does not stop trying offensive actions. Areas of twenty-five settlements were shelled by tanks, mortars, and rocket artillery. Among them are Berdychi, Andriivka, Verkhnokamyanske, Berestov, Bilohorivka, Vesele, Soledar, Bakhmut, Opytne, Avdiivka, Pervomaiske, Maryinka and Novomykhailivka of the Donetsk oblast.
The enemy is defending in the Novopavlivsk direction. Vuhledar, Prechystivka, Zolota Nyva and Velyka Novosilka in Donetsk oblast were shelled.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. December 8, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. December 8, 2022. Source: ISW.

In the Zaporizhzhia direction, the enemy fired tanks and artillery at the areas of fourteen settlements. In particular, Vremivka, Velyka Novosilka and Novopoly in the Donetsk oblast and Dorozhnyanka, Hulyaipole, Novodanylivka and Stepove in the Zaporizhzhia oblast.
The enemy is conducting defensive operations in the Kherson direction. Tank and artillery shelling was recorded in the areas of Beryslav, Kozatske, Antonivka, Komyshany, Dniprovske and Veletenske settlements of the Kherson oblast and the outskirts of the city of Kherson.
The enemy continues to suffer losses. On December 7 of this year, as a result of fire damage to areas where the occupiers were concentrated in the districts of the cities of Berdyansk, Tokmak, Melitopol, Enerhodar, Dniprorudne, Polohy and Vasylivka of Zaporizhzhia region, the enemy lost about 240 people wounded. 3 ammunition warehouses and about 20 units of military equipment of various types were destroyed. The hospital developed on the basis of the “Tokmak Anti-tuberculosis Dispensary” is completely filled with wounded servicemen of the russian occupation forces.
The units of missile troops and artillery of the Defense Forces of Ukraine hit 8 control points, 11 areas of concentration of personnel, weapons and military equipment, and 2 ammunition warehouses of the invaders.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst. ~

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Bakhmut direction is tough because of Wagner PMC “competition” with regular Russian army – Ukrainian servicewoman. One of the toughest battles of Russo-Ukrainian war is currently ongoing in the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast. Servicewoman of one of the National Guard brigades Khrystyna Kudriava, who is currently working in the Bakhmut direction, explains that “The story with Bakhmut is purely the story of the Wagner PMC, which decided to prove to the Russian authorities that it has better, higher-quality training than the regular Russian army. Like, they [Russian regular army] retreated there from Kherson, but we are holding on here.”

Good news may soon come from the front in Luhansk Oblast – Oblast Head. The armed forces of Ukraine are slowly advancing in the direction of Svatove-Kreminna. Luhansk Oblast head Serhiy Haidai believes there will be good news on the frontline from Luhansk Oblast soon.

“Russia has made a catastrophic mistake,” British Royal Navy Adm said. Putin has failed across the board during 10 months of the war against Ukraine, US Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said. The Ukrainians defeated the initial attack on Kyiv and then more than held their own in the battles in the eastern part of the nation. Ukrainian forces launched a counterattack in Kharkiv that drove the Russians back from the second-largest city in the country and then pushed the Russians out of the strategic city of Kherson, Milley said. But “there’s still a significant amount of fighting to go,” Milley said.

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

  • For the first time in three weeks, there have been reports of attacks by Iranian-provided one-way attack (OWA) uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs). These events remain to be verified, but it is likely that Russia exhausted its previous stock of several hundred Shahed-131s and 136s and has now received a resupply.
  • On 06 December 2022, the Ukrainian General Staff reported shooting down 17 UAVs, including 14 Shahed-136s. On 07 December 2022, Ukrainian officials reported the use of Iranian-provided OWA UAVs targeting Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro oblasts.

 

  • The last previously reported shooting down of Iranian Shahed-136s in Ukraine was on 17 November 2022. If verified, it is likely that Russia has recommenced attacks with newly delivered OWA UAV systems.

Losses of the Russian army 

The total combat losses of the enemy from 24.02.2022 to 09.12.2022 were approximately:

  • personnel ‒ about 93390 (+310) persons were liquidated,
  • tanks ‒ 2937 (+0),
  • APV ‒ 5912 (+1),
  • artillery systems – 1926 (+1),
  • MLRS – 395 (+0),
  • anti-aircraft warfare systems ‒ 211 (+0),
  • aircraft – 281 (+0),
  • helicopters – 264 (+0),
  • UAV operational-tactical level – 1603 (+0),
  • cruise missiles ‒ 592 (+0),
  • warships / boats ‒ 16 (+0),
  • vehicles and fuel tanks – 4531 (+3),
  • special equipment ‒ 164 (+0).
Losses. of the Russian Army. Source ~

Losses. of the Russian Army. Source

Humanitarian 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1600967957177282560

Russia kicks out civilians from hospitals to make room for its WIA in Luhansk Oblast’s occupied part – National Resistance Center. Hospitals located in the temporarily occupied areas of Luhansk Oblast forcefully expel patients who have not yet completed treatment. People with complex injuries, even those who were blown up by Russian mines must make way for the Russian military, Ukraine’s Center of National Resistance reports.

Environment

Russia deploys multiple-launch rocket systems to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Enerhoatom. Russia stages a provocation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that it controls, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear energy operator Enerhoatom warns. On 7 December 2022, the Russian military placed several multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) “Grad” near one of the nuclear reactors at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), right next to the territory of the plant’s dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel, according to Enerhoatom.

Price cap on Russian oil can work only if lowered to 35 USD instead of 60 USD – Ukraine’s Economy Minister. The new Price Cap Policy mechanism has significant potential but price restrictions for Russia must be revised downwards, Ukraine’s Minister of Economy Yulia Svyrydenko said.

Legal 

Bodies of men with torture signs found after Russian occupation in Ukraine’s south. Ukrainian investigators found three bodies of men in Novopetrivka village of Snihurivka municipality, Mykolayiv Oblast. The area was liberated from Russian occupation by Ukrainian forces on 11 November 2022.

Forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia is a clear act of genocide. Ukrainian human rights groups have monitored Russia’s kidnapping of children from occupied parts of Ukraine and are in no doubt that such enforced deportation and attempts to turn Ukrainian children into ‘Russians’ are acts of genocide.  Russia is also using children for cynical propaganda purposes, with a new study reporting that many children were apparently adopted’ by Russians only to be ‘returned’, like unwanted goods, when the Russians discovered that they had health problems. The Russian occupation ‘authorities’ are now, at least, carrying out medical examinations first, although the fact that ‘unhealthy children’ get left behind will certainly not be admitted on the propaganda videos about Russians supposedly ‘saving’ Ukrainian children.

Support 

Australian company releases Kherson Liberation Gin to raise money for de-mining in Ukraine. The Australian gin company has produced a limited edition of dry gin to celebrate the liberation of the Ukrainian city of Kherson and raise money to clear mines in Ukraine.

Slovakia to send Ukraine ammunition for aircraft, 300 generators. The Slovak government approved a new package of military aid to Ukraine on 7 December. It includes ammunition for fighter jets, warm clothes for the military, and other equipment.

New Developments 

Italy’s opera house staged Russian opera despite Ukrainian protests; von der Leyen and Meloni visit it – AP. Italy’s most treasured opera house, Teatro alla Scala, opened its new season Wednesday with the Russian opera “Boris Godunov,” against the backdrop of Ukrainian protests that the cultural event is a propaganda win for the Kremlin during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, AP reports.

Putin admits that Russian army strives to destroy critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. Russia seeks to destroy Ukraine’s energy system in order to retaliate for Ukrainian strikes on the Crimean bridge, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in his interview with the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.

European Parliament will vote on the recognition of Holodomor as genocide on 15 December. The Holodomor was a Soviet-made famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932-1933 after food stocks were forcibly taken away from Ukrainian collective and individual farms and cities. Soviet authorities forbid Ukrainian peasants to leave Ukraine during the famine.

Moscow again using and trapped by conspiracy theories to justify Russia’s fight against the West, anthropologist says

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  December 8, 2022:

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that the risk of Russian nuclear escalation is currently low, partially supporting ISW’s previous assessments. Scholz stated that “Russia stopped threatening to use nuclear weapons” because an international “red line” contributed to “putting a stop” to Russian nuclear escalation threats on December 8.[1] ISW has always assessed that Russian nuclear escalation in Ukraine was unlikely.[2] Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated Russia’s official position on nuclear weapons, including Russia’s non-first-use policy, on December 7.[3] Both Scholz’s and Putin’s statements support ISW’s previous assessment that while Russian officials may engage in forms of nuclear saber-rattling as part of an information operation meant to undermine Western support for Ukraine, Russian officials have no intention of actually using them on the battlefield.[4]

The Kremlin likely has not abandoned its maximalist objectives in Ukraine despite Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s first-time acknowledgment that Moscow’s current territorial objective is to fully seize four partially occupied Ukrainian oblasts. Peskov took an opportunity to further capitalize on the Western desire for negotiations on December 8 when expanding upon Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December 7 remarks regarding the acquisition of “new Russian territories.”[5] Peskov stated that one of the main goals of the Russian “special military operation” in Ukraine was to “protect residents of southeastern Ukraine and Donbas” when responding to a journalist‘s question regarding the Kremlin’s original objectives for war.[6] Peskov also noted that there are no talks about annexing new territories that are currently not under Russian partial occupation as there is “still a lot of work to be done” to fully occupy Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts. Peskov, however, reiterated that the Kremlin is still pursuing its “demilitarization” and “denazification” objectives in Ukraine, which confirms that Russia is still pursuing regime change (“denazification”) and the elimination of Ukraine’s ability to resist future Russian attacks or pressure (“demilitarization”). The Kremlin’s objectives, in other words, continue to remain unchanged from those set following the Russian withdrawal from Kyiv. Peskov’s comments were not an inflection in Russian war aims or demands.

Putin’s invocation of Russian imperial history on December 7 and his recent remarks regarding Russia’s role as the only “guarantee of Ukrainian sovereignty” are further indicators that the Kremlin is setting conditions for a protracted war aimed at eradicating Ukrainian sovereignty.[7] The Kremlin’s deliberately inconsistent messaging is part of a persistent information operation intended to mislead the West into pushing Kyiv to negotiate and offer preemptive concessions.[8]

The Kremlin’s Western-oriented messaging is continuing to anger the pro-war milblogger community that is increasingly accusing the Kremlin of deviating from its original war goals in Ukraine, however. A prominent milblogger stated that “the annexation of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts was not among the declared goals of the special military operation on February 24.”[9] Less prominent milbloggers claimed that Putin does not have the capacity to continue pursuing his maximalist goals following numerous withdrawals and unsuccessful offensive campaigns, forcing the Kremlin to accept protracted war as the means to wear down Ukraine.[10] The Kremlin’s deliberately inconsistent rhetoric may have further ramifications on the appeal to Russians of Putin’s vision for the war in Ukraine.

Putin may be deliberately distancing his rhetoric from nationalists’ unrealistic demands for the Russian war efforts in Ukraine. Putin stated on December 8 that in order to help Russia complete its war goals Russians should stop engaging in confrontations on the information front and suppress their impulses to believe fake and leaked information.[11] Putin added that there is “a lot of noise” within the information space regarding Russia’s missile campaign against Ukrainian energy infrastructure and falsely implied that Russian strikes are retaliatory measures following the claimed Ukrainian attack on Kerch Strait Bridge, shelling of the Kursk Nuclear Power Plant, and Ukraine’s uninterest in providing water to Donetsk City. A prominent milblogger — who had been calling on Putin to retaliate for Ukraine’s liberation of Russian-occupied territories and claimed Ukrainian strikes against Russia — found Putin’s comments disappointing and angrily interpreted Putin’s statements to mean that the Kremlin had not planned to strike Ukrainian infrastructure if the attack against Kerch Strait Bridge did not occur.[12]

The Kremlin has been increasingly attempting to reorient public opinion to favor its official messaging, and Putin’s December 8 statement may aim to diminish or marginalize the milbloggers to re-establish the perception that the Kremlin maintains a “moderate” and authoritative position. Putin has previously publicly associated himself with nationalist milbloggers but still drawn criticism for failing to fully ideologize Russia.

Putin may be attempting to get the milblogger community under control by attacking its credibility and encouraging self-censorship. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on November 6 that Russians must listen to information about mobilization from Putin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) when responding to a question regarding Telegram channels.[13] While Putin may also be considering actually censoring the milbloggers, such measures remain unlikely given Putin’s ongoing efforts to retain relations with select milbloggers. Putin’s December 8 statement may also be an example of poor messaging discipline that failed to account for Russian milbloggers’ growing complaints about Moscow’s failures to address the perceived Ukrainian threat against Russia.

On the other hand, a senior Kremlin official explained why the Kremlin tolerates criticism from the pro-war Russian milblogger community for the first time. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova responded to a question concerning the discrepancies between the Kremlin’s and milbloggers’ coverage of the war at the “Voenkors [milbloggers] as a New Information Powerhouse” panel on December 7.[14] Zakharova implied that the Kremlin permits divergent coverage of the war in order to maintain a uniform political view — likely referring to the milbloggers’ ongoing support for Putin’s vision for seizing all of Ukraine. Zakharova also suggested that the Kremlin is not interested in enforcing “absolutist” information policies as the divergent voices allow the Kremlin to monitor different opinions and their influence in society. Zakharova hypothesized that if the Kremlin attempted to force scripted slogans upon shapers of the Russian information space it would not deprive them of their opinions or influence but only remove these figures from the Kremlin’s eye.

Zakharova’s statements are a candid acknowledgement of the Kremlin’s desire to appeal to the wider nationalist audiences at the expense of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) credibility, as ISW has long assessed. The convening of the panel itself further confirms that the Kremlin is cognizant of its inability to strip the milbloggers of their influence at this stage of the war, granting milbloggers growing credibility in the Russian information space. The Kremlin, however, continues to intensify censorship against Russian opposition bloggers that criticize the Russian government, analyze combat footage, and voice concerns similar to those of nationalist milbloggers’ about mobilization and frontline problems. Russian officials have announced a search for famous Russian YouTube personality Dmitry Ivanov (1.7 million viewers) who had analyzed the ground situation during the siege of Mariupol and has criticized Zakharova, for example.[15]

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley stated that fighting in Ukraine may intensify this winter despite the recent fighting tempo decrease from autumn, partially supporting ISW’s assessments and forecasts.[16] Milley told the Wall Street Journal on December 7 that frontlines in Ukraine are currently “stabilizing[,] and as winter rolls in,” he acknowledged the “potential opportunity for offensive action” from either Russian or Ukrainian forces during “the depth of the winter because of the weather and the terrain.”[17] Milley’s assessment diverges from US Director for National Intelligence Avril Haines’ December 3 forecast that the pace of the war in Ukraine will slow over the winter so that fighting can resume in spring 2023.[18] Milley’s statement supports ISW’s assessment that Ukrainian forces will be able to exploit the weather conditions as the hard freeze approaches in late December since winter is conducive for mechanized warfare in Ukraine.[19] ISW assesses Ukrainian forces likely are preparing to take advantage of frozen terrain to move more easily than they could in the muddy autumn months and that Ukraine’s continued operational successes depend on Ukrainian forces’ ability to continue successive operations through the winter of 2022–2023 without interruption.[20]

Ukrainian officials stated on December 8 that Russian forces further militarized the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). Ukrainian state nuclear energy agency Energoatom reported on December 8 that Russian forces transferred several Grad MLRS systems near reactor number 6 and the dry storage fuel area at the ZNPP.[21] Energoatom stated that Russian forces most likely plan to use the Grad systems to strike Nikopol and Marhanets, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast – near daily targets of Russian shelling already.[22] ISW has reported on prior footage confirming that Russian forces have stored military equipment, including ammunition, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft guns, and other armaments on the ZNPP grounds.[23] New equipment deployments to the ZNPP may be an attempt to placate ongoing speculation among Russian nationalist milbloggers of a possible Russian withdrawal from the ZNPP, which the Kremlin has denied twice within the past 10 days.[24]

Key Takeaways

  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that the risk of Russian nuclear escalation is low.
  • Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Milley stated that fighting may intensify in Ukraine during the winter.
  • The Kremlin has likely not abandoned its maximalist goals in Ukraine despite Dmitry Pskov’s comments on Russian territorial objectives.
  • The Kremlin’s Western-orientated messaging continues to anger the pro-war milblogger community.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin may be distancing his rhetoric from nationalists’ unrealistic demands for the Russian war in Ukraine.
  • A senior Kremlin official admitted that the Kremlin tolerates criticism from the pro-war milblogger community out of a desire to appeal to the wider nationalist community.
  • Ukrainian officials stated that Russian forces further militarized the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP).
  • Russian forces reinforced positions near Svatove and conducted counterattacks near Kreminna amid continued Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in eastern Ukraine.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka–Donetsk City areas.
  • A Russian government official implied that Putin’s word is law when it comes to the military mobilization of Russian citizens.
  • Russian occupation officials increased security measures in Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine.

Ukraine needs independent journalism. And we need you. Join our community on Patreon and help us better connect Ukraine to the world. We’ll use your contribution to attract new authors, upgrade our website, and optimize its SEO. For as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

Tags: